For what is a lifetime for many (certainly it was a lifetime for the male façade who was blogging here for so long), I looked to others for approval. I admit it as a problem drinker might at an AA meeting; I was a chronic fixer. Everyone else came first. Maybe it happened because, as a child, it seemed like the only way to make grownups stop being angry. I don't know for sure, but that is who I was. Some call it "a pleaser personality". Every day I remind myself that this is an issue and I must stay aware of it.
I looked for acceptance and when I wanted something for myself, it was alway vetted through that filter: Will this make others around me happy too? When things went wrong, I did the quintessentially Canadian thing and asked for forgiveness - I am sorry.
Two years ago, I already knew what I needed to do and who I needed to be, yet fear ruled my life. To be myself I would have to let others down - badly. Surprisingly, when I told the most important people in my life, my children, they told me straight out that they knew I would still be me, but happier and healthier. There was acceptance and no need for forgiveness. We were good. We are good.
Fear still ruled my life because my wife of many decades was terrified and disgusted by the prospects for her future with me as a woman in public. I wanted her to be ok; I wanted her to come along happily on this journey. But when she told me I will hate you if you do this thing, I froze and thought maybe I could put the life that had to be off a bit longer.
Friends who found out what was going on gave mixed reactions running the gamut from immediate acceptance to outright rejection. But those who spoke to my wife in private told her how disgusting it was and how she should just "take me to the cleaners" and divorce me. They were certain that as a woman I would be ridiculed and so would she. Some suggested that it would be dangerous; some might react violently against a transexual in such a small community. How could I do this to her?
I didn't do anything to her. I forgave and accepted myself. If nobody else in the world would forgive or accept me, it really didn't matter. I had to give myself permission to be myself. Once that was done, everything else was relatively easy.
Because I accepted myself, I acted naturally and confidently around everyone. That put them at ease and made interactions go well. I was not a target in the community.
If you have to break away from a life of maladaptive behaviour, begin by forgiving yourself for all the things you have done to others. Then forgive yourself for what you have done to yourself.
Accept and love yourself as you have accepted and loved others in your life for so very long.